Psychological Science

The Temporal Dynamics of Brain-to-Brain Synchrony Between Students and Teachers Predict Learning Outcomes


Much of human learning happens through interaction with other people, but little is known about how this process is reflected in the brains of students and teachers. Here, we concurrently recorded electroencephalography (EEG) data from nine groups, each of which contained four students and a teacher. All participants were young adults from the northeast United States. Alpha-band (8–12 Hz) brain-to-brain synchrony between students predicted both immediate and delayed posttest performance. Further, brain-to-brain synchrony was higher in specific lecture segments associated with questions that students answered correctly. Brain-to-brain synchrony between students and teachers predicted learning outcomes at an approximately 300-ms lag in the students’ brain activity relative to the teacher’s brain activity, which is consistent with the time course of spoken-language comprehension. These findings provide key new evidence for the importance of collecting brain data simultaneously from groups of learners in ecologically valid settings.

Funding Provided By
  • National Science Foundation
    • 1661016